OPINION: GOP hypocrisy on full display following Trump arrest, Tennessee

OPINION: GOP hypocrisy on full display following Trump arrest, Tennessee

In Tennessee last week, a highly partisan state legislature voted to expel two Black Democratic legislators, while sparing a white woman who engaged in similar conduct.

The two elected representatives of the state’s largest districts represent approximately 80,000 Tennessee citizens.

“The Tennessee Three” led a protest on the House floor to demand action on gun control after the latest deadly school shooting in Nashville.

Apparently, protesting against gun violence is taboo in Tennessee.

Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens under the age of 19.

The female legislator who survived the vote said that the difference between her survival and her colleagues’ expulsion “might have to do with the color of our skin.”

She vowed to do everything in her power to get their jobs back.

Tennessee Republican lawmakers called the three Democrats’ behavior “disorderly,” akin to an “insurrection.”

Funny—where were these self-righteous clowns when a real insurrection occurred at the national Capitol building on January 6, 2021?

And since no other legislator has ever been expelled for similar behavior, this “vote” smacks of a violation of the 1st Amendment, a vicious retaliation for criticism of Republican House members.

While this is happening in Tennessee, former Michigan speaker of the state House of Representatives has been quietly charged with accepting bribes as part of his role as chair of the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board.

And, as we all know, Republicans are tripping all over themselves to defend former president Donald Trump, who has been arrested and charged with over 30 felonies.

Republicans have been largely silent about these issues and a number of others.

According to Trump, Senator Ron Johnson (WI), and Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (GA), January 6th, 2021 was an “unarmed” and “peaceful protest,” don’t you know?

In the interest of time and space, I won’t repeat all the other ridiculous conspiracy theories espoused by GOP elected officials and the alt-right media (Fox News).

While there is plenty of GOP hypocrisy to go around, perhaps the biggest hypocrite of all is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, poised to announce his 2024 presidential run.

When Trump was indicted, DeSantis declared that “Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue.”

DeSantis accused the New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg of weaponizing the legal system to “advance a political agenda.” He claimed the indictment “turns the rule of law on its head.”

Interesting that DeSantis would trash and illegally refuse to cooperate with the NYC indictment, but remain silent about the Tennessee Three or the former Michigan Speaker and, especially, January 6th.

But, that’s the GOP in the 21st Century. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution precludes the right of a state to decline another state’s extradition request. The Article and Section in question states:

“A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime . . .”

Trump decided to voluntarily surrender (for political reasons), so DeSantis’s defiance became a non-issue, but he was still willing to “turn the rule of law on its head,” and violate the United States Constitution.

On April 3, 2023, DeSantis quietly signed a bill to allow permitless carry in the state of Florida.

The legislation, passed with almost no fanfare, allow citizens to carry a gun without a permit and without training.

Instead of protesting gun violence like the “Tennessee Three,” he promotes and passes laws making gun violence easier.

On March 24, 2023, DeSantis signed House Bill 837 into law restricting citizens’ access to civil justice, decreasing statutes of limitation, lying about attorney fee structures, and providing immunity when homeowners deliberately injure or kill trespassers.

He calls Florida a “judicial hellhole,” a phrase pulled directly from the playbook of the US Chamber of Commerce, which has, for decades, been at war with the civil justice system, lobbying for restriction on citizens’ access to the courts.

Last year, DeSantis was more than willing to “turn the rule of law on its head” when he signed a law requiring teachers to remove books that do not appear on a state-approved reading list, requiring a prior review by a ‘media specialist.’

The law targets LGBTQ+, Black, and Jewish citizens by restricting access to “culture war” issues, like gay rights, slavery, or the Holocaust.

Many of the books that have been disallowed in Florida schools, feature “diverse” characters, including The Life of Rosa Parks, Henry Aaron’s Dream, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and The Kite Runner.

Obvious concerns are 1st Amendment rights and an effective whitewash of gay and civil rights issues in Florida schools.

When the Walt Disney company dared to publicly speak out against limitation on discussion of sexual orientation and gender expression in Florida schools, DeSantis was not happy and went after Disney World, stripping it of special tax district status.

DeSantis took aim at the Reedy Creek Independent District, the special tax district the State of Florida created for Disney World when construction on the park began in 1967.

He renamed the district the “Central Florida Oversight District and appointed five of his political cronies to manage the park’s municipal affairs.

Days after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, a new Florida law was passed that banned abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy.

The previous threshold was twenty-four weeks. Recently, DeSantis and his draconian GOP colleagues in both chambers and on the state supreme court decided to introduce bills to restrict abortion at six weeks.

As most females know, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks. Thus, practically, this legislation amounts to a total ban on abortions in Florida.

Furthermore, Florida law requires two in-person doctor visits with a 24 hour waiting period between the two visits, a nearly impossible burden at six weeks.

Considering that Roe was the “law of the land for 50 years in Florida, while many states are championing the rights of women and passing less restrictive legislation, Florida, under DeSantis, is turning the other way, decimating abortion access for Florida women—talk about “turning the rule of law on its head.”

The Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing the current fifteen week ban. The odds are not in their favor as DeSantis has stacked the high court with a 6-1 conservative majority (talk about turning existing law on its head!).

While I recognize that citizens choose their political leaders, I question whether the electorate understands the hypocrisy their leaders constantly demonstrate and the rights they are giving up.

Be careful what you wish for, Florida—DeSantis and his cronies are coming for you next.

Mark M. Bello is an attorney and author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series and children’s social justice/safety picture books.

He also hosts the popular bi-weekly podcast, Justice Counts.

Mark’s books may be found at all online booksellers and on his website, at https://www.markmbello.com.

Mark M. Bello

Mark M. Bello is an attorney and author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series and children’s social justice/safety picture books. He also hosts the popular bi-weekly podcast, Justice Counts (https://www.spreaker.com/show/justice-counts_1). Mark’s books may be found at all online booksellers and on his website, at https://www.markmbello.com. Sign up for Mark M. Bello's Social Justice Newsletter.